The best short headline formulas

The headline is everything

Your headline should be clear and interesting, and focus on your audience’s problem.

Create clear headlines that clearly articulate how the article or the product will solve their problem.

An effective headline combines a powerful benefit with the promise of useful information addressed directly at the customer’s specific problem.

When I write content, I spend the same amount of time (or more!) writing the headline as I do on the rest of the content, because it’s the most important element of the content. If your headline doesn’t create desire in the reader’s head, they won’t read the rest, no matter how good your offer might be.

The winning headlines usually contain the following words:

  • Discover
  • Easy or Easily
  • Free
  • New
  • Proven
  • Introducing
  • Guarenteed
  • Qick
  • Sale
  • How
  • Why


Examples of different types of headlines

  1. How-To… / What not to do to…

The formula:
How to… achieve something


  • How to make $60k fast without robbing a bank
  • How to avoid confrontations with even the angriest customers
  • How to choose only 3 pieces of home fitness equipment to get everything you need

Why this works:
The How-To headline promises us a solution to a problem. This formula works best when you make the problem as specific as possible. For example, instead of telling customers they will learn “How to advertise inexpensively”, say: “How to advertise successfully for under $100 a month”.

  1. The How-To case study

The formula:
How I/We/someone else… achieved something specific in a time frame


  • How I started my online business and made 6 figures in the first year
  • How I got 1000 Facebook followers in a day
  • How I paid off $46,500 in student loans in 2 years

Why this works:
This is a variation of the How-To headline. The headline wakes up curiosity by sharing a story about a specific person or company. Of course, readers want to learn how they can achieve something similar.

Instead of saying: “How to get more social media followers”, say this: ”How I added 10,000 Facebook followers in a month”. Which sounds more powerful? Any time you can add specific details, it makes the statement more powerful.

  1. The big promise:

The formula:

You can… achieve something by doing something


  • Use this anti-aging serum for 3 months and everybody will think you had plastic surgery
  • Make this the best month ever for your business by using our blueprint to grow your company
  • Find your soulmate within 2 weeks by you registering to this rapid-dating site

Why this works:

Much like the previous headline, this inspires the reader that they can achieve something very desirable to them by following the directions.

  1. Mistakes

The formula:
X “topic” mistakes that result in a loss


  • 6 marketing mistakes that lose customers
  • 5 common beliefs that sway you from making good decisions
  • 7 biggest misconceptions that keep you from losing weight

Why this works:
People are afraid of making mistakes, so a list of mistakes arouses their curiosity, making them want learn what else they may be doing wrong.

  1. The secret

The formula:
Secret of… something


  • 7 secrets to make the most of your holiday
  • The secret to a great first date
  • A secret recipe from a Hollywood beautician

Why this works:
We all like to know secrets, and feeling like we are an insider in a small, special community that knows this information. People are curious, and if they can learn about something that is not perceived to be public knowledge, they will read the rest.

  1. The reasons why

The formula:
Reasons why… surprising fact


  • 11 reasons to drink more lemon water
  • 12 reasons to sell your car in the winter

Why this works:
This formula combines a list with reasons why a surprising fact is true.

  1. Call them by “name”

The formula

The name of your specific niche


  • Attention website-owners
  • 30-something singles here
  • HR can get the power of…

Why this works:

People love to hear about themselves. If you know who is your target audience, call them by their name.


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